Smile Politely

Here’s how we’re voting this election

Two years ago, Editorial Board member Julie McClure wrote a voting guide in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections. In 2018, two years of the Trump Administration’s deadly shenanigans felt oppressive and inescapable. There were some great successes in those midterms, including flipping the House blue with more women — specifically women of color — than ever, and a stunning “blue wave” in county elections.

In 2018, McClure described things as a “shit show.” Now, “shit show” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of where we are. Things are much, much worse. A global pandemic has killed 225,000 people in this country. The summer brought egregious and punitive military and police brutality in response to cries for racial justice; this brutality is still happening, in our own state, where a teenager was gunned down by a police officer. Senate Republicans brazenly pushed through another conservative judge in Amy Coney Barrett rather than devoting their time and effort to providing economic relief to American citizens. The past year has left most of us deeply questioning what, exactly, we are doing in and with and for this American experiment.

It’s not breaking news that our country is more partisan and divided; this has been the trend for decades. It trickles all the way down to the county and municipality level. What’s disappointing, at best, and insidious, at worst, is that Republican elected officials have intentionally undermined American institutions to line their pockets and acquire power. They have dismissed scientists and public health experts. They have destabilized the public trust in the CDC. They have made only the most minimum of efforts to provide economic relief in this pandemic that has caused an economic crisis way more damaging than the Great Recession.

The Republican party is led by the worst possible person and there is a long line of enablers, from the federal level all the way down to Champaign County, who are peddling in conspiracy theories and lies, and enacting dangerous, racist, sexist, and anti-human policies. If things were serious in 2018, they’re catastrophic now.

It is unclear if our democracy can endure another four years of this type of chaos. It is time to vote for candidates who will work to mend these long festering wounds. That work starts locally.

We must elect representatives who will protect our healthcare, and pass COVID-19 economic relief packages to save small businesses and prevent people from being evicted in the dead of winter. (Thankfully we have two Senators in Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth who support these measures.) We must elect representatives who believe that science is real, who wear masks because they are proven to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and who are committed to helping this country achieve carbon neutrality.

It’s time to replace Trump sycophant Rodney Davis with Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Davis has voted in support of Trump’s policies a whopping 91.1% of the time. He has repeatedly voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, most recently in June of this year. Londrigan has repeatedly committed to upholding the ACA and working toward policies that will support the middle class. In IL-15, Democrat Erika Weaver is by far the more qualified candidate who has clear, delineated positions on a number of policies on her website. Londrigan and Weaver are candidates who know their districts, are thoughtful, smart, and have actual plans for supporting their constituents. 

We must vote for candidates who are empathetic and thoughtful, who can consider the humanity of their constituents, and in the case of judges, the person in front of them and the (dis)advantages they may have experienced because of where they were born, what they look like, and how much money they have. Judicial candidate Ramona Sullivan has demonstrated these qualities throughout both of her campaigns. 

It is critical that we support Cunningham Township through the tax levy that is on the ballot. The Township’s work literally saves lives.

Champaign County Forest Preserves has not seen a tax increase since just after World War II, in 1948, when CCFP was incorporated. That’s three generations of families who have used the free parks and outdoor spaces, with no formal increase in resources. Now’s the time to invest in this incredible resource that we’ve been using more than ever before. 

For some people, choices in this election are clear, and there is no hint of confusion or hand-wringing. At the local level, the waters can get muddier. These are people we live and work with. You know Republican candidate “X”; they aren’t a terrible person, and they have the qualifications for the position they are running for. However, the question we have been asking ourselves since 2016 is, “What are these local Republicans doing to repudiate the Trump Administration?” If a candidate feels compelled to keep the R next to their name, we feel strongly that they must answer for the policies of their party. Silence is violence.

Finally, as this crisis year continues to unfold, we must consider the ways in which our local municipalities have conducted themselves. While some are not on the ballot right now, they will be in the very near future. We will not forget the ways in which our most marginalized and vulnerable community members have been treated.

It’s probably not surprising to you who we, as a magazine and as individuals, support in this election. Frankly, most of our readership shares our values, even if we do disagree sometimes. We know that you’re invested in the good of this community, and the good of our state, and the good of our country. This election is our chance to demand the mandate, to hold our elected officials to a higher standard, and confirm that we are ready and willing to put in the work to get closer to where we want to be. 

Have questions about voting? Check out our guide. You can learn more about individual races below:

The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer.

Top image by Jessica Hammie.

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